Many tenants will often assume that because their landlord owns the property they live in, that their landlord’s word is law. This couldn’t be further truth. The real truth is that there are specific and powerful laws that protect tenants from landlords who are negligent or hostile. Any type of harassment caused by a landlord can be combated. Here, we go over the different types of tenant harassment, what tenants can do to fight against it and different resources that will aid tenants in doing so.
Types of Tenant Harassment
Tenant harassment includes:
- Any type of physical or verbal abuse
- Not offering or refusing leases or renewals
- Offering a buyout (offering money to move out) under these circumstances:
- Repeatedly offering to rent-regulated tenants
- Using threats, immoral language, or intimidation
- Offering false information
- Illegal lockouts
- Unjustified eviction notices or evictions
- Unfairly rising rents in rent-regulated apartments
- Failure or refusal to repair essential repairs and utilities
- Purposely causing construction-related problems, such as working after hours, blocking entrances, or failing to remove excessive dust or debris (x)
- Intentionally lying or misrepresenting laws to tenants.
Reporting An Issue
Any type of tenant harassment, including any dangerous living conditions or lack of services, can be reported to 311 or to your local housing officials. Through 311, landlords can be subjected to enforced compliance, inspections, and violations. Landlords cannot retaliate or punish tenants for making justified actions or complaints against the landlord. If the harassment continues after the first complaint is issued, tenants are allowed to continue filling following complaints to 311.
For tenants of rent-regulated housing, complaints can also be filed through the Tenant Protection Unit (TPU), a program that investigates landlords accused of harassment and illegal activity. The TPU can be contacted at (718)739-6400, or at TPUinfo@nyshcr.org. Additional contact information is listed at the end of the article.
For more information on reporting issues, visit our article on filing complaints here.
If the issues are still ongoing after complaints are issued, or if the harassment worsens, tenants can take legal action against their landlords in Housing Court. Prior filed complaints and other proof of harassment can be used to testify against a negligent landlord. To learn more about taking legal action in Housing Court, visit the resources below.
NYC Housing Preservation and Development: Housing Court
New York State Unified Court System: Housing Court Legal and Procedural Information
New York State Unified Court System: Housing Court General Information
Housing Court Answers
Additional Contact Information and Resources
Tenant Protection Unit
Adress: NYS Homes & Community Renewal
Tenant Protection Unit
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica NY 11433
NYC Housing Preservation and Development: Legal Assistance (Includes lists of not-for-profit fair housing organizations)